AirAsia sounding out investors to take company private

Men walk past an AirAsia sales centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Founders of Asian budget carrier AirAsia Bhd are sounding out investors to take the company private in a management-led buyout, after its shares took a beating this year following a critical research report, people familiar with the matter said.

AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes and his long-time business partner Kamarudin Meranun are working with banks to secure financing for the transaction, which could be launched over the next few months, said the people, who did not want to be identified as the discussions are confidential.

Obtaining financing will be key for the deal to succeed, the people said.

An AirAsia spokeswoman had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

The airline’s market value has fallen 40 percent to 3.51 billion ringgit ($803 million) since Hong Kong-based GMT Research questioned AirAsia‘s accounts in a report in June.

The report came as AirAsia was under pressure to turn around its loss-making affiliates and was being squeezed by industry overcapacity in a low-margin business.

Group CEO Fernandes, who has led the airline’s rise from a two-plane operation in 2002 to a billion-dollar business, has steadfastly defended the company‘s finances and outlook and said the market was undervaluing it.

Tune Air, jointly owned by Fernandes and Meranun, owns about 19 percent of AirAsia. The plan to take the airlineprivate comes a decade after it was listed on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange priced at 1.25 ringgit for institutional investors, around where it was trading on Tuesday.

($1 = 4.3710 ringgit)

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(Additional reporting by Yantoultra Ngui in KUALA LUMPUR; Editing by Lisa Jucca and Alex Richardson)

Reuters

 

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.